The Texas Probate process causes a great deal of anxiety mostly because people don’t know what to expect. Until a close loved one dies, it remains a mysterious process that few people have to deal with.
We want to help put your mind at ease by giving you a window into the probate process.
How does probate start?
It’s not enough to write a will and stick it in a drawer somewhere. Proper estate planning requires a person to file their will with the probate court in their county of residence.
Of course, if the decedent doesn’t have a will, then probate still happens. The courts simply use Texas intestacy laws.
Once a person dies, the person applying to be the executor or administrator must file a petition with the court to open probate for the estate. When a will exists, this will generally be the executor named in the will.
Until this happens, the assets may not be distributed.
What happens at the probate hearing?
Many probate hearings are relatively routine. The judge confirms the decedent has died. They then confirm that the person who wishes to serve as the executor or administrator is fit to serve.
The court then verifies the will is valid and enforceable, if one exists, or verifies that the decedent has died without a will.
What happens after the hearing?
The executor or administrator has 90 days to inventory and appraise the estate. They must also notify all the beneficiaries that the will exists and they are an heir, post a notice to creditors, and file the decedent’s federal tax return.
The executor also uses this time to pay out the debts that the estate owes, as the debts must be paid before the assets may be distributed.
What happens if there are disputes?
The heirs making the dispute must file the dispute with the courts. Additional hearings may be required, or the disputes may be settled out of court.
When do the assets get distributed?
Assets are only distributed after creditors are paid and the disputes are resolved. As any one of these steps can take some time, the probate process itself usually takes six months to one year, depending on the complexity and value of the estate.
How can The Probate Law Group help?
We help executors who need guidance on how to properly fulfill their duties and heirs who are hoping to speed the process along because they need access to assets ASAP.
If you think our firm might be able to solve your probate problems, don’t hesitate to call us right away.